What Sort Of People Are You To Be?
2 Peter 3:8-13
1. The Patience of the Lord.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.– The eternity of God. Our lives are so short, so temporary, we hate waiting for anything. But God is outside of time. He doesn’t age or slow down or forget. Peter refers to Psalm 90:4- “a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:2- “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
“do not overlook this”– don’t let this escape you; don’t miss this;
It seems like it’s been “forever” since Jesus went to heaven. But that’s only because we are impatient. We’re like kids on a long car ride: “Are we there yet?”
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”.
But it seems like such a long time. Why hasn’t Jesus come again?–
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
The false teachers were evidently reasoning that if Jesus was this slow in returning, maybe He wasn’t returning at all. And if He’s not returning in judgment why should we be so careful how we live.
What they failed to see was that the “delay” in Jesus coming was actually the mercy of God. It is the patience of the Lord, waiting, withholding judgment.
“patient toward you [in the church], not wishing that any should perish”– this is God’s wish. His desire is that no one would perish. But yet many, many reject Him and will surely perish. Because He is holy and just He will judge with eternal judgment those who have not turned to Him to accept His offer of forgiveness in Christ.
“[He desires] that all should reach repentance”– this is God’s “desire” for everyone. And in it is the Good News, that anyone who wants to repent can be saved. “For whoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Take a moment and look back at Ezekiel 18:27-32—
27 Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
In His perfect patience, the Lord is giving opportunity for more people to repent, to turn to Him and live. Do not misunderstand timing. His promise to return is sure. Turn to Him now, trust in Him now, before He returns in judgment.
2. The Judgment of the Lord.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, — “will come” is first in this Greek sentence, emphasizing the certainty of the Lord’s great Day (no matter how long it takes, He WILL return).
“Like a thief”– like a thief in the night (Paul, 1 Thes. 5:2), referring to Jesus’ warning in Matt. 24:43-44. If you knew someone was going to break into your house, you’d be ready for it.
We had a thief come one night while we were camping—a raccoon broke into our cooler and ate all our lunch meat. After that, we kept the cooler in the truck. We made sure we were ready. That’s the point Jesus, Paul, and Peter are making. Don’t be caught unprepared. The Lord could return at any moment. Be ready.
Because when He comes, there will be no Bethlehem, no shepherds, no wise men, no Christmas Eve candle light service. When the Day of the Lord comes it will start with judgment. The earth and sky above us will be destroyed.
and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, — “roar” like a crackling, roaring of a brush pile on fire. So hot, you can’t even get close to it.
and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.– some texts say here the earth and the works done on it will be “burned up”. Either way, the judgment will be all pervasive; like the waters engulfed the earth in Noah’s day, so the world will be engulfed in flames. There will be nowhere to hide.
Remember that a “day” in Jewish thinking started the evening before. That’s why the Sabbath, which is Saturday, was observed first of all on Friday night. The Sabbath actually began on the evening before the Sabbath day. So with the Day of the Lord. There will be the darkness of God’s wrath and judgment on earth, before the daylight of blessing and renewal for God’s people.
3. The People of the Lord. — those who know the Lord, know His patience, but also know His great power—we must live like we’re ready to welcome Him at any moment!
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, — this promise is a fact; it is certain the earth will face the fire of holy judgment.
what sort of people ought you to be — I think this is the point of this whole letter. Christ is coming back; He will bless His people, but first He will judge the wicked, and we too will give an account for how we have served the Lord.
What sort of people ought we to be? Should we be careless, selfish, just blending in with the world around us? No, we should be living and loving examples of our heavenly Lord.
in lives of holiness — set apart from sin;
and godliness,– living out God-like behavior- love, forgiveness, kindness, sharing the gospel.
“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (1:3). In Christ we have everything we need to live holy and godly lives. We just need to be reminded. Maybe your life and your testimony will be used by God to bring someone else to repentance. Someone else may be saved from God’s judgment because you lived out the changed life that Christ has done in you.
12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,– This is praying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There is a crown reserved for all those who love His appearing. If you are focused on Christ, and living a life that would please Him, you will be drawn more and more to looking forward to His coming.
This verse even says somehow we “hasten” the coming of that Day by living for God and waiting with expectation for Him to come.
And notice one more thing, the Day of the Lord is here called the Day of God. Jesus is Lord and God. Peter calls Jesus God and Savior (1:1), and here the return of Jesus is called the Day of God. Once again Peter reinforces our faith in the deity of Christ. Jesus is Lord and God.
because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!–
This sounds very ominous, but isn’t judgment right? Don’t you as an individual hate to see a criminal hurt someone, abuse someone, murder someone and get away with it? God would not be just, and we could not trust Him we’d be one day safe from evil.
ILLUS: I bought a used car, and the exhaust system was going bad and had been welded and patched several times. It got really loud, and finally on my way home one day, it rusted and broke, and I had to drag it along ashamed of the embarrassing rattling noise. So when I took it into the shop, they didn’t try to patch it up. They tore the old one off and put on a brand new exhaust pipe. Now my Civic purrs like a kitten.
The world is broken by sin. One Day Jesus will come and evil will be judged and eliminated forever. God will not just fix our world, He is going to give us a new one…
4. The Promise of the Lord.
13 But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This is the “light” time, the daytime of the Day of the Lord. When judgment is past and evil is banished forever, then will come what we’ve been waiting for.
“new heavens and new earth”– no longer tainted by sin, I can’t imagine how beautiful the world will be. And Rev tells us there will be no need of the sun or the moon in the future, “for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23).
And in that new heaven and earth, the Kingdom of God will be fully here, as Jesus will reign as King forever. When He is here, “righteousness” will “dwell” here, that means righteousness will be at home here. For now, there are lies and gossip and stealing and murder and perversions of every kind. But one Day that will all be burned up and gone. And righteousness—all that is right, all that is good, all that pleases God—will be at home here.
We long for that Day. But what sort of people are we to be now? Are we trusting Him, and are we submitting to Him , letting Him change us each day? Are we living in personal holiness and outward godliness to represent Jesus our Lord now?
King Jesus is coming. What sort of people ought we to be?